Regardless of how far you are in the process of learning English, understanding Gerund might be the most enjoyable or the most complicated one so far. It’s up to you, and we recommend you to choose the first path, especially that GlobalExam can help teach you in the simplest way possible.

In this article we will learn:

  • What is Gerund and how do we form it?
  • the different cases to use Gerund.
  • How to improve your English Grammar with GlobalExam.

Let’s dive right in.

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What Is Gerund And How Do We Form It?

A Gerund is when you add the -ing to a verb and it would still function as a noun in a phrase. To form a gerund, it is the process of adding -ing to verbs and following a few rules to ensure the correct meaning of the sentence. Gerunds can also be used as the subject complement or the object of your sentences.

Here are a few examples:

  • I don’t like doing anything.
  • Running is fun.
  • Making friends is important for children.
  • Your sister admitted breaking the glasses.

What Are The Different Cases Where We Can Use The Gerund?

Gerunds are also considered as a type of noun formed from a verb, but it’s important not to confuse them with the present participle. The latter is often used in continuous tense forms. For example:

  • You are reading my book. (the present participle)
  • You enjoy reading my book. (Gerund).

It all depends on the structure of the sentence. Here are a few situations when you should be using gerunds in a phrase:

🡲 After some verbs: The few verbs that should be followed with gerunds are admit, enjoy, appreciate, deny, mind, understand, avoid, finish, consider, can’t help, and imagine.

Example:

I can’t help falling in love / She avoids confronting me.

🡲 After a preposition: Here is a small list of the prepositions when to use a gerund.

  • concentrate on (doing)
  • approve of (doing)
  • admit to (doing)
  • insist on (doing)
  • feel like (doing)
  • forget about (doing)
  • think about (doing)
  • plan on (doing)
  • talk about (doing)
  • argue about (doing)

🡲 After ‘from’ and ‘to’:

Stopping or preventing from doing:

  • He stopped me from coming.
  • I prevent you from smoking.

🡲 Looking forward to doing:

I look forward to hearing from you.

🡲 Objecting from doing:

Let’s all object to listening to their decisions.

🡲 Get using to doing:

It took me a long time to get used to living here.

🡲 Prefer something to something else:

  • I prefer cleaning to cooking meals.
  • After some fixed expressions:
  • It’s no good doing…
  • It’s no use doing…
  • As well as doing…

Gerunds versus Infinitives – Know the Right Use of Them in a Sentence

Both gerunds and infinitives can replace a noun in sentences, but there is a small difference between them. Since we have already been introduced to gerund and understood the multiple ways to use it, let’s now become acquainted with infinitives.

The infinitive is when you use to + the base infinitive form of the verb. For example, to run, to dance, to sing.

To decide when to use gerund or infinitive, you should pay attention to the main verb in the sentence. It can be a little tricky, which is why it’s important to practice them over and over again.

Here is a list of some of the verbs which are followed by the ‘to-infinitive’ (the verb ‘to do’ is added in order to help you memorize this list):

Agree to doClaim to doHope to doPretend to do
Aim to doDecide to doIntend to doPromise to do
Can’t afford to doExpect to doManage to doRefuse to do
Can’t wait to doFail to doOffer to doSeem to do
Choose to doHappen to doPlan to doWish to do

Verb + Gerund: How Does It Work?

It is very easy to spot gerunds because they are formed with verbs, and also because they have an -ing stuck to their tail. There is basically no rule to follow, you just need to learn all the verbs that can become gerunds.

The following list includes verbs that are followed by gerunds (‘doing’ is added to help you memorize this list).

Admit doingDeny doingImagine doingMiss doing
Avoid doingDislike doingInvolve doingPostpone doing
Can’t help doingDiscuss doingJustify doingPractice doing
Can’t stand doingEnjoy doingKeep on doingPut off doing
Consider doingFinish doingMention doingResent doing
Delay doingGive up doingMind doingRisk doing

Verbs + Gerund Versus Infinitives: Any Differences?

There are some verbs that can be followed by either the gerund or the infinitive but the meaning is different. Take a look at the examples below:

 GerundInfinitive
StopI’ve stopped smoking. (That means I no longer smoke.)I stopped for a few minutes to rest. (That means I stopped what I was doing in order to rest.)
RememberI still remember buying my first bicycle. (That means I have a particular memory of something that took place during my childhood.)Remember to save your files before logging off. (With this meaning, we often use the imperative to remind someone to do something.)
ForgetI’ll never forget meeting the President. (This is similar to ‘remember doing’.)I forgot to send her the message. (This is similar to ‘remember to do’.)
Allow and permitWe don’t allow/permit smoking. (When there is no direct object the gerund is used.)We don’t allow/permit people to smoke. (When there is a direct object the infinitive is used.)
Go onHe went on talking for over an hour. (Here ‘go on’ means ‘continue’.)He went on to talk about company sales. (Here ‘go on’ means ‘change to another subject’.)
AdviseI advise repackaging the product. (When there is no direct object, then use the gerund.)I advise you to repackage the product. (With a direct object we use the infinitive with ‘to’.)
SuggestI suggest breaking off the meeting here. (When there is no direct object, then use the gerund.)I suggest we break off the meeting here. (With a direct object we use the infinitive or what’s really the subjunctive form – see next example.)

I suggest that he find a later date. (Here for the verbs advise, suggest, recommend we can use this construction with a subjunctive, but be careful with the 3rd person of the singular as there is NO ‘-s’!!)
RecommendI recommend finishing the report before the weekend. (See comments for ‘advise’ and ‘suggest’.)I recommend that you finish the report before the weekend.
Expect
-
They expect us to find a solution to the problem.
Want
-
He wants her to respond to the email.
Used to
-
She used to swim every single after class. (In the past she swam, she doesn’t swim anymore).

These verbs – expect, want, allow, help, enable, encourage, invite, order, remind, tell, warn, are often followed by a direct object and then an infinitive with ‘to’.

Verb Or Adjective + Preposition + “-ing” Gerund Form

There is another complexe structure which is composed of a verb or adjective followed by a preposition which is then followed by a gerund (-ing form).

Examples:

  • I’m thinking of applying for the Assistant to the Director positions.
  • She is interested in learning Italian because she works in the fashion industry.
  • He had to get used to studying after school. (It required an effort).
  • They were used to playing video games after school. (They had the habit).

A list of these verbs and adjectives + prepositions can be found on another grammar explanation sheet.

What Common Mistakes You Should Avoid Making

🡲 Common mistakes: verbs or adjectives that are followed by ‘to’ when it is acting as a preposition need to be followed by a gerund (NOT the infinitive) as mentioned above.

Example:

  • I am looking forward to hearing from you.
  • Pierre is accustomed to driving on the left as he has lived in England for 20 years.

🡲 For this last example, if we substitute the expression ‘be used to’ in the place of ‘be accustomed to’, a gerund also needs to come after the preposition ‘to’.

Pierre is used to driving on the left…

🡲 Don’t confuse this with ‘used to’ (without the verb ‘to be’) which means a habit from the past that no longer exists today and is not followed by a gerund.

Example:

Jane used to ride her bike to work, but when she got a new job she had to take the train.

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